Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Re: Lebanese Gnostics? PMCV's questions

Expand Messages
  • pmcvflag
    Hey Widad ... NOT a Sufi, and I am not an authority on Sufism. I am not posessed of the Greater Understanding Sufis and other mystical scientists past and
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 3, 2006
      Hey Widad

      >>>>Before I carry on, allow me to state, emphatically, that I am
      NOT a Sufi, and I am not an authority on Sufism. I am not posessed
      of the "Greater Understanding" Sufis and other mystical scientists
      past and present lay claim to. I am a student; a seeker after truth
      under direction. Nothing else.<<<

      I think many of us here would say something similar about our own
      respective paths, or the paths we aspire to... or find an empathy
      with.

      >>>I hope the words I have quoted above are sufficient to answer
      your first set of questions, or at the very least provide some food
      for thought. Similarly, I hope these words provide, if not answers
      to your second topic of questions, at the least a demonstration of a
      perennial attitude and understanding that you might find germane
      to those questions.<<<

      Well, my first set of questions was largely rhetorical, and dealing
      with how we might look at the subject as a methodological means for
      comparing and contrasting spiritual movements. You have done a great
      job of providing examples of how some Sufis view the question. I do
      hope, however, my point was not overly obfuscated concerning the
      difference between how practitioners of various systems may see it,
      vs the categorical approach we must take here.

      Thank you for putting in so much work there. Sufism is, without a
      doubt a very varied and interesting set of sects. Understand,
      though, it wasn't at issue as to whether some Sufi orders think this
      way (although in order to be honest we need to point out that it is
      a debate between various Sufi schools as well, and many of them
      don't agree with the more open view of tradition), I think we all
      agree that indeed some Sufi schools do have this opinion of the
      matter. We could go on to add that to some extent there are
      syncratic (even eclectic) forms of mystical thinking in other
      movements besides Sufism... including Hindu, Buddhist, and even some
      Christian thinkers. Of course, some of them have drawn the line as
      to where the tradition ends and the core meanings lay in slightly
      different ways.

      >>As for my own understanding, I suspect the degree to which each
      unique community or individual at various times understood the
      Demiurge literally or allegorically cannot confidently be nailed
      down in most cases. Chances are, if the Sufis are correct, it is
      virtually inevitable that, at some point, some forms, or "motifs",
      if you will, become automatized and ossified; they take on a lower
      function -- even if highly venerated -- that was not the intent of
      the original design. However, it is beyond my capacity to identify
      clear instances of this phenomenon with any great certitude.<<<

      My other questions were meant to raise the issue (for the sake of
      discussion) as to whether these are qualities also common to
      Gnosticism. And if so, to what degree. It seems that you raise the
      same issue from a slightly different angle. I agree with you, of
      course, that we simply can't always be authoritative about how
      everything in these texts are intended. You certainly have an
      important point concerning how a mystical idea can become
      concretized in popular usage... but historically the inverse has
      happened as well. Non-mystical movements have had mystical sects
      grow out of them.

      I'm not sure if it is really important here which way it happened
      for Gnosticism... and that is an ongoing debate that we may not be
      able to answer. It could, however, have implications to your point.

      I do think, though, that we can do much more justice to the question
      of the Demiurge in Gnostic thinking. Lets get back to that in a
      moment though.

      >>>I think this depends on the intent and actual capacity of the
      individual, or individuals, who are presenting the material.<<<

      Inversely, it takes an assumption concerning what a "capacity" in
      this area would necessarily lead to in order to make the valuation.
      This premise can only be applied from one emic stance for or against
      another... not from an etic perspective. That causes a serious
      problem for what you say next.

      >>>To defer to Crispin for a moment, we would have to consider
      whether stubbornly holding on to a particular form and presenting it
      in times and communities different from the times and communities
      that necessitated the original design, this because it is assumed to
      be an essential, defining formulation -- so that we can say "yes,
      this is clearly X, and not Y or Z" -- does not merely create
      immitations of X as opposed to reproducing the much more valuable
      transformative results X once had the capacity to transmit.<<<

      How could I disagree? But to get back to what I just mentioned
      previously, we have to be very careful before we even foist any
      particular notion of "transformation" on to these groups. I don't
      think for this conversation we can take it as an assumption that the
      Sufis and the Gnostics are necessarily seeking the same thing. I am
      not saying they are not, but I think you may have jumped ahead a few
      steps in the conversation about some things that many here may have
      other perspectives on.

      That means before we can assume function, we have to establish
      intent. That brings us back to the question I raised about the
      Demiurge, which I think your next point leads into.

      >>>Are those who are presenting the material more concerned with
      preserving or venerating prior formulations then they are acutely
      concerned with the business of transforming people? For those
      who wish to to develop or preserve an attachment to forms, then
      the former will always be prefered above the latter. I don't imagine
      one can have it both ways unless the requirements of the
      situation demand an exoteric façade to mask an esoteric inner
      function.<<<

      There are many notions of "transforming" people. Evangelical
      Christians consider the gaining of faith in Jesus to be the primary
      transformation a person can attain. I think you and I are agreed
      that this is a bit more literalist than any of the movements we are
      talking about. I would venture to guess that we could agree that
      there are some important points in common between the Sufi notion
      and the Gnostic notion of spiritual attainment as a sort of
      awakening to a kind of esoteric knowing. It doesn't mean, though,
      that what they wish to know is necessarily the same. I think that is
      an issue that needs further discussion.

      So what does that have to do with the Demiurge? As I mentioned
      previously, I think that there was a literary aspect, a motif of
      sorts, that gets delt with in different ways depending on the text.
      Yes, there was some room for change. I also raised the question as
      to how literal, over all, we can look at the subject as it was used
      by the categorical movement of "Gnosticism". One thing I think we
      can say, with a great deal of confidence, is that in the Gnostic
      thinking the Demiurge was NOT simply a psychological device meant to
      induce psychological change. Even when we see the motif used
      allegorically, it is connected to metephysical observation that was
      taken as a literal truth in not only Gnosticism, but Platonism as a
      whole. In other words, the Demiurge is not simply a defining motif
      for the methodology of Gnosticism, a Jungianism, but instead it is a
      core attribute of the Gnostic view of the relationship between
      matter and spirit, existence vs origin.

      This, I think, COULD be a deep philosophical difference between some
      Sufis and the Gnostics that would be interesting to test. The
      specific spiritual goal is another possible one that should be
      explored. If we base our whole exploration on an assumption that the
      goal is the same, we are bound to prove ourselves right via
      eisegesis.

      >>>Khwaja Salahudin says the transformative essence of the
      teaching, the Truth, "cannot be passed on in the same form
      because of the difference in the minds of different communities. It
      cannot be reinterpreted because it must grow afresh." So I choose,
      however naievely one might suppose, to place my trust in the Way
      of the Sufis in this matter. And, according to my teachers, only
      that which serves the transformative process is untouchable;
      sancrosanct. All forms are ultimately subservient to that
      consideration; subservient to time, place and community/culture<<<

      I can imagine the debate between the hypothetical Sufi and the
      Gnostic. The Sufi talking about the experience of God and the
      transformative process, the Gnostic quipping that change is an
      aspect of the fallen realms, and that "God" is just the experience
      of the lower realms of the Plaroma, not the true source. The Sufi
      could parry by calling the Gnostic moldy and stringent, and the
      Gnostic retort that the Sufi only has half the picture. Then again,
      maybe they would split a six pack of beer and marvel at how
      entertaining it is to debate things that no one can really
      demonstrate one way or another beyond our own experience and a
      little logic here and there. ;)

      PMCV
    • Steve
      ... a ... great ... this ... some ... question ... against ... it ... to ... the ... few ... imagine ... is ... to ... a ... some ... the ... Hi Karl. The
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 4, 2006
        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hey Widad
        >
        > >>>>Before I carry on, allow me to state, emphatically, that I am
        > NOT a Sufi, and I am not an authority on Sufism. I am not posessed
        > of the "Greater Understanding" Sufis and other mystical scientists
        > past and present lay claim to. I am a student; a seeker after truth
        > under direction. Nothing else.<<<
        >
        > I think many of us here would say something similar about our own
        > respective paths, or the paths we aspire to... or find an empathy
        > with.
        >
        > >>>I hope the words I have quoted above are sufficient to answer
        > your first set of questions, or at the very least provide some food
        > for thought. Similarly, I hope these words provide, if not answers
        > to your second topic of questions, at the least a demonstration of
        a
        > perennial attitude and understanding that you might find germane
        > to those questions.<<<
        >
        > Well, my first set of questions was largely rhetorical, and dealing
        > with how we might look at the subject as a methodological means for
        > comparing and contrasting spiritual movements. You have done a
        great
        > job of providing examples of how some Sufis view the question. I do
        > hope, however, my point was not overly obfuscated concerning the
        > difference between how practitioners of various systems may see it,
        > vs the categorical approach we must take here.
        >
        > Thank you for putting in so much work there. Sufism is, without a
        > doubt a very varied and interesting set of sects. Understand,
        > though, it wasn't at issue as to whether some Sufi orders think
        this
        > way (although in order to be honest we need to point out that it is
        > a debate between various Sufi schools as well, and many of them
        > don't agree with the more open view of tradition), I think we all
        > agree that indeed some Sufi schools do have this opinion of the
        > matter. We could go on to add that to some extent there are
        > syncratic (even eclectic) forms of mystical thinking in other
        > movements besides Sufism... including Hindu, Buddhist, and even
        some
        > Christian thinkers. Of course, some of them have drawn the line as
        > to where the tradition ends and the core meanings lay in slightly
        > different ways.
        >
        > >>As for my own understanding, I suspect the degree to which each
        > unique community or individual at various times understood the
        > Demiurge literally or allegorically cannot confidently be nailed
        > down in most cases. Chances are, if the Sufis are correct, it is
        > virtually inevitable that, at some point, some forms, or "motifs",
        > if you will, become automatized and ossified; they take on a lower
        > function -- even if highly venerated -- that was not the intent of
        > the original design. However, it is beyond my capacity to identify
        > clear instances of this phenomenon with any great certitude.<<<
        >
        > My other questions were meant to raise the issue (for the sake of
        > discussion) as to whether these are qualities also common to
        > Gnosticism. And if so, to what degree. It seems that you raise the
        > same issue from a slightly different angle. I agree with you, of
        > course, that we simply can't always be authoritative about how
        > everything in these texts are intended. You certainly have an
        > important point concerning how a mystical idea can become
        > concretized in popular usage... but historically the inverse has
        > happened as well. Non-mystical movements have had mystical sects
        > grow out of them.
        >
        > I'm not sure if it is really important here which way it happened
        > for Gnosticism... and that is an ongoing debate that we may not be
        > able to answer. It could, however, have implications to your point.
        >
        > I do think, though, that we can do much more justice to the
        question
        > of the Demiurge in Gnostic thinking. Lets get back to that in a
        > moment though.
        >
        > >>>I think this depends on the intent and actual capacity of the
        > individual, or individuals, who are presenting the material.<<<
        >
        > Inversely, it takes an assumption concerning what a "capacity" in
        > this area would necessarily lead to in order to make the valuation.
        > This premise can only be applied from one emic stance for or
        against
        > another... not from an etic perspective. That causes a serious
        > problem for what you say next.
        >
        > >>>To defer to Crispin for a moment, we would have to consider
        > whether stubbornly holding on to a particular form and presenting
        it
        > in times and communities different from the times and communities
        > that necessitated the original design, this because it is assumed
        to
        > be an essential, defining formulation -- so that we can say "yes,
        > this is clearly X, and not Y or Z" -- does not merely create
        > immitations of X as opposed to reproducing the much more valuable
        > transformative results X once had the capacity to transmit.<<<
        >
        > How could I disagree? But to get back to what I just mentioned
        > previously, we have to be very careful before we even foist any
        > particular notion of "transformation" on to these groups. I don't
        > think for this conversation we can take it as an assumption that
        the
        > Sufis and the Gnostics are necessarily seeking the same thing. I am
        > not saying they are not, but I think you may have jumped ahead a
        few
        > steps in the conversation about some things that many here may have
        > other perspectives on.
        >
        > That means before we can assume function, we have to establish
        > intent. That brings us back to the question I raised about the
        > Demiurge, which I think your next point leads into.
        >
        > >>>Are those who are presenting the material more concerned with
        > preserving or venerating prior formulations then they are acutely
        > concerned with the business of transforming people? For those
        > who wish to to develop or preserve an attachment to forms, then
        > the former will always be prefered above the latter. I don't
        imagine
        > one can have it both ways unless the requirements of the
        > situation demand an exoteric façade to mask an esoteric inner
        > function.<<<
        >
        > There are many notions of "transforming" people. Evangelical
        > Christians consider the gaining of faith in Jesus to be the primary
        > transformation a person can attain. I think you and I are agreed
        > that this is a bit more literalist than any of the movements we are
        > talking about. I would venture to guess that we could agree that
        > there are some important points in common between the Sufi notion
        > and the Gnostic notion of spiritual attainment as a sort of
        > awakening to a kind of esoteric knowing. It doesn't mean, though,
        > that what they wish to know is necessarily the same. I think that
        is
        > an issue that needs further discussion.
        >
        > So what does that have to do with the Demiurge? As I mentioned
        > previously, I think that there was a literary aspect, a motif of
        > sorts, that gets delt with in different ways depending on the text.
        > Yes, there was some room for change. I also raised the question as
        > to how literal, over all, we can look at the subject as it was used
        > by the categorical movement of "Gnosticism". One thing I think we
        > can say, with a great deal of confidence, is that in the Gnostic
        > thinking the Demiurge was NOT simply a psychological device meant
        to
        > induce psychological change. Even when we see the motif used
        > allegorically, it is connected to metephysical observation that was
        > taken as a literal truth in not only Gnosticism, but Platonism as a
        > whole. In other words, the Demiurge is not simply a defining motif
        > for the methodology of Gnosticism, a Jungianism, but instead it is
        a
        > core attribute of the Gnostic view of the relationship between
        > matter and spirit, existence vs origin.
        >
        > This, I think, COULD be a deep philosophical difference between
        some
        > Sufis and the Gnostics that would be interesting to test. The
        > specific spiritual goal is another possible one that should be
        > explored. If we base our whole exploration on an assumption that
        the
        > goal is the same, we are bound to prove ourselves right via
        > eisegesis.
        >
        > >>>Khwaja Salahudin says the transformative essence of the
        > teaching, the Truth, "cannot be passed on in the same form
        > because of the difference in the minds of different communities. It
        > cannot be reinterpreted because it must grow afresh." So I choose,
        > however naievely one might suppose, to place my trust in the Way
        > of the Sufis in this matter. And, according to my teachers, only
        > that which serves the transformative process is untouchable;
        > sancrosanct. All forms are ultimately subservient to that
        > consideration; subservient to time, place and community/culture<<<
        >
        > I can imagine the debate between the hypothetical Sufi and the
        > Gnostic. The Sufi talking about the experience of God and the
        > transformative process, the Gnostic quipping that change is an
        > aspect of the fallen realms, and that "God" is just the experience
        > of the lower realms of the Plaroma, not the true source. The Sufi
        > could parry by calling the Gnostic moldy and stringent, and the
        > Gnostic retort that the Sufi only has half the picture. Then again,
        > maybe they would split a six pack of beer and marvel at how
        > entertaining it is to debate things that no one can really
        > demonstrate one way or another beyond our own experience and a
        > little logic here and there. ;)
        >
        > PMCV

        Hi Karl. The example of the Demiurge is instructive for me because
        I'm always walking that fine line between reading the gnostic myths
        as a coded reference to inner spiritual life and reading them as an
        ontological explanation of existence. Of course, in all Platonic-
        influenced systems of thought the two are not considered separate
        from each other, the whole microcosm/macrocosm thing. -Steve W.
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.